Facebook has made a small interface change with a potentially big impact. Within the last day or two it has removed the option to “Hide All Posts” from the menu of options available for editing posts in the news feed. Many users instead are seeing only the options to hide the individual post, report the post or mark it as spam. If they then hide the post, they just see a message with links to either undo the post or unlike the Page. The option remains for friends’ posts, but a step further into the process.
Update 8/7/2011: The option to “Hide all by [Page]” has been reinstated. It now appears after users opt to hide a single post by the Page, beside the option to Unlike the Page.
By burying the option one step deeper, Facebook may be able to prevent users from indefinitely hiding a Page’s updates on impulse. Note that the rest of this article is not out of date.
The company may feel that since users are opting in to receive updates from people and Pages in the first place by friending or Liking them, the interface shouldn’t then make it too easy hide the most significant function of that decision. Philosophically, it has used the “you opted in in the first place” line of reasoning for other information-sharing features, from location to phone numbers to friend suggestions and much more.
For Page owners, the change means that users can no longer obscure all of their content with a single click, unless they want to Unlike the Page. That option does appear once you hide the post, but that’s relatively buried compared to the previous place it had in the main drop-down menu. Some Page owners have complained in the past that they don’t get enough visibility in the news feed based on the overall ranking structure of the algorithm. This change might make them happier.
But on that point, Facebook also decides on what posts to show in the news feed, and it is less likely to show any content from a source that users have previously shown they don’t interact with or don’t want.
A final note: this change is happening right after a big revamp to the news feed, and before what might be the introduction of more granular controls for individual news feed items. If Facebook adds other ways to easily control content by person and page, this interface change won’t end up looking like much.
Update: Repeated from above – The option to “Hide all by [Page]” has been reinstated. It now appears after users opt to hide a single post by the Page, beside the option to Unlike the Page.